Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

rachel’s wedding diary: the proposal

January 12th, 2018 | Rachel Parry

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Hold the blog ladies! My boyfriend has only gone and put a ring on it! That’s right, i’m engaged – I can now call my other half “my fiancé” and I own a ‘wedding planning journal’. I waited oh so (not at all!) patiently and, lo and behold, my lovely Andy popped the question on 21st December, making the recent festive season all the more memorable and exciting.

Having read hundreds, if not thousands, of engagement stories through our real wedding features on the blog, I always thought I would see a proposal from my own boyfriend coming a mile off. Previously Andy only had to suggest a walk on holiday, or sitting for a rest on a particular bench, and I’d feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention. But unbelievably I was caught off guard.

You see he double bluffed me. Unfortunately for Andy, having a girlfriend that works in the wedding industry means quadruple the usual pressure to propose. Add into the mix that I’ve turned 30 and have a mum who is desperate to see her only daughter walk the aisle, and it’s no wonder he wanted to throw people off the proposal scent – so he could do it his way, in his time. And that’s exactly what he did!

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He’d made it clear that he wouldn’t be getting down on one knee when anyone would expect it, surely that ruled out holidays, birthday and Christmas (or so I thought). And so, when he suggested a pre-Christmas day trip to Manchester no wedding-on-the-horizon alarm bells rang. We go to the city fairly often for shopping, bars, restaurants and gigs – I easily accepted this was merely an excuse for a day drinking all things mulled (until we were in a similar state) at the city’s Christmas markets.

On reflection he’d been a little snappy in the days leading up to the trip (I’d even told him to cheer himself up or he would ruin Christmas!) but he blamed his short temper on being busy with work. It turns out he hadn’t told a single soul his plans so it’s no wonder he was pent up.

Just before getting off the train in Manchester he’d said there was a coffee shop he wanted us to head to – as a coffee connoisseur this was expected – I happily followed him to the location he’d tapped into Google Maps and then when we arrived outside the Central Library by The Midland Hotel, found myself looking around for what turned out to be a fictional coffee shop. He’d mentioned it being cold and I noticed his hand tremor a little, but still nothing. Then, just as I was about to suggest the coffee place could be inside the library, he plucked a ring box from his pocket and got down on knee in St Peter’s Square.

My hands reached to clasp the side of my face and my first response was “you’re doing this now?” – I didn’t have Andy down as the public proposal type, another reason I wasn’t able to suss it out in advance. Gathering a little composure, I managed a “yes” before covering him in a shower of lipstick-imprinting kisses.

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As it was raining most passers-by had their heads down, so we weren’t too on show and we celebrated with the obligatory just-engaged selfies and ask-strangers-to-take-our-picture-photos (which also earned us a few hugs). This was soon followed by the Facetiming, phone calls and texts to our nearest and dearest before announcing the news on social media later that day.

Keen to keep the proposal top secret, Andy had asked my dad’s permission way back in the summer and he proposed with a £20 Amazon ring (which I have to say looked like the real deal) as my mum, who may have exploded with excitement had she known about Andy’s plans prior to the day, was the keeper of my real engagement ring. This is because my pretty gold band, complete with three delicate diamonds, previously belonged to my nan, and my mum had kept it safe in her possession after we sadly lost my nan in 2016.

I take it as an amazingly good omen that I have her engagement ring on my finger entering into marriage as she and my grandad were most definitely one of the most in-love couples I’ve ever known; meeting as teenage sweethearts and enjoying more than 50 happy years of married life together. My nan and I had also spoken about my (at that point hypothetical) wedding day many times, and if she were still here now she would undoubtedly be involved in the plans and the picking of the dress, though having her ring makes me feel like she is part of the journey.

The rest of mine and Andy’s day in Manchester was spent drinking prosecco at The Midland Hotel then consuming pizza and cocktails in The Northern Quarter before returning to Sheffield to celebrate with my brothers and their partners in the pub where Andy and I had our first date.

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So now the real fun begins, right?! I’ve already found myself reading the blog content in a different way, thoroughly absorbing what our featured brides and suppliers say. At this point I’m not sure if my experience in the industry means I’ll be extremely well equipped or incredibly overwhelmed, but I’m so excited for what’s to come and sharing my wedding planning story with you. Prepare for updates on the venue and suppliers that will help to shape mine and Andy’s day – as well as a few melt-downs and dilemmas, I’m sure!

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behind the blog: rachel

October 19th, 2017 | Rachel Parry


Day to day we’re used to dishing out questions; to our wonderful featured brides, talented local suppliers and top dress designers, so that we can bring you all the latest bridal news and inspiration. It’s not that often that the tables are turned and we find ourselves in the spotlight. However, we keep being asked for gossip and insight into what goes on behind the scenes here at Brides Up North HQ. Who are we to argue?

And so, in order to give a glimpse as to what we get up to during both work and non-work hours (not that we have too many of the latter!) we’re introducing a new series of ‘behind the blog’ features to our pretty pages.

Here we’ll give you all the latest Brides Up North developments, as well an update on our home and social lives, plus a look at what we have planned in the coming months.

I’m kicking things off this month, with a personal post from Julia to follow in November. So readers, welcome to my world…


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September and October are crazy busy months for Brides Up North as we take to the road to stage our Luxury Wedding Fairs at some of the finest and coolest venues in the top half of the country. This is a fabulous opportunity for us to leave our white-walled office and meet/catch up with skilful suppliers in the industry while meeting you lovely brides-to-be first hand. We love to see the fabulous displays that our exhibitors put on to inspire our visitors whilst hearing what couples have planned for their big day. So far it’s been an epic season, that’s seen our events taking place in rustic barns, urban warehouses, elegant hotels and fine stately homes, offering something for all. And there’s still five events lined-up in the Autumn calendar – check them out here!

Elsewhere we have been fortunate to be invited to some spectacular industry events, including The Bridal Buyer Awards in Harrogate (for which we act as a judge), the Northern Blog Awards in Manchester (where we won the title of ‘Best Wedding Blog’, no less!) and a fabulous ‘Tickle Your Tastebuds’ event with hospitality specialists Dine.

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Held at their beautiful headquarters and gorgeous wedding venue The Mansion, in Leeds, (where we just so happen to be hosting one of our Luxury Wedding fairs this Sunday), Dine treated us to a delicious three-course meal with accompanying wines, which culminated in a sorbet taste test (turns out our senses aren’t quite as in tune as we thought!) The stunning presentation matched the amazing flavours and we can highly recommend these guys to deliver incredible food and service for your big day. The images accompanying this post by Olivia Brabbs Photography will show you a little of what we got up to.

Even further north, we travelled up to Matfen Hall in Northumberland, to hear all about the refurbishment plans that the team there have in store to take this already fairy-tale venue to the next level. Prepare for full details coming up on the blog soon and we will be unveiling the transformation with a Luxury Wedding Fair at Matfen on Sunday 4th March 2018!

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After weddings, this is one of the main topics discussed at Brides Up North HQ at the moment, as both Julia and I have both recently purchased new properties. For me it was a move across Sheffield, taking us from an apartment to a house (that’s right, I now have stairs and outdoor space!) I’ve found this means becoming excited about things I would have previously considered quite mundane (light switches and radiators mostly), plus my ‘home’ pinning is off the Pinterest scale!

It’s a project in that it requires cosmetic attention throughout, as well as a new kitchen, but we (my boyfriend and I) are learning to take things one step at a time and enjoy the planning and process too. So far, we’ve transformed a tired once-cream living room into a deep-blue sanctuary – the walls took three coats, four in some areas, and I know we will curse our choice of deep-hue when trends change and muted tones are back in, but for now we will enjoy our ‘Blue Fringe’ selection.

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The bathroom is underway now, and again we’ve shunned light tones in favour of something with depth, unable to resist Pantone’s colour of the year, which literally pours from every interior magazine and plumed for a dark green tone and botanical theme. Further updates to follow.

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